Catholic World News

Duterte writes to Pope Francis of his ‘profound respect’

January 19, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has written a private letter to Pope Francis, speaking of his “profound respect” for the Holy See.

The Filipino leader, who made international headlines in 2015 with a profanity-laced criticism of the Pope, wrote: “The Philippines values its special relations with the Holy See and regards with gratitude Your Holiness’ gracious stewardship of the Catholic faith.” Jesus Dureza, an adviser to Duterte who is in Rome for talks with Filipino rebels, made public the content of Duterte’s message, which he said he would deliver personally to the Pontiff.

During the Pope’s 2015 visit to Manila, Duterte—then a presidential candidate—complained bitterly about traffic snarls caused by the papal visit. “Pope, you [expletive], go home. Don’t come here anymore,” he said. He later apologized for the outburst.

Duterte has continued to clash with Church leaders during his presidency, however. He has given his tacit support to vigilante squads that have lynched hundreds of suspected drug dealers, and embarked on an aggressive campaign to distribute free contraceptives to the poor in the predominantly Catholic country.


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